An Assessment of the Multijurisdictional Drug Task Forces in Texas: A Case Study




Cardenas, Gabriel G.

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For many years numerous public policy efforts have been initiated at the national and state level to combat drugs and crime. Among these efforts has been the formation of multijurisdictional drug task forces. In Texas, these task forces have been very active in fighting crime. In recent years, however, these task forces in Texas have been under heavy criticism and scrutiny for their questionable operations. In 1998, in an effort to combat the drug problem in the U.S., Congress passed legislation in the form of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. The legislation authorized the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) -- which is under the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) -- to administer the Edward Byrne Memorial State Grants. This grant is available for programs in the various states to combat problems associated with crime, drug addiction, and drug trafficking. The multijurisdictional drug task force programs are funded under this grant. The purpose of this research project is to examine and assess the performance of the multijurisdictional drug task forces in Texas. The objectives of the study are (1) the development of a model that describes the ideal characteristics of the operational structure and policies and procedures of the multijurisdictional drug task forces; (2) the assessment and comparison of the operational structure, policies and procedures, and organizational culture of the multijurisdictional drug task forces in Texas to this model; and (3) the development of public policy implications and recommendations for the multijurisdictional drug task forces in Texas. This project also provides a general description, perspectives on management practices, organizational culture, and oversight and command and control of the multijurisdictional drug task forces in Texas. The purpose of this study is to observe how close the multijurisdictional drug task forces in Texas are to the practical ideal type developed through information provided in the literature review. The research design for this study consists of a case study technique. The study consisted of a survey instrument developed to collect data and information on the multijurisdictional drug task forces. The survey instrument consisted of questionnaire that was developed and applied to a sample of 49 multijurisdictional drug task forces in Texas. Among the research techniques utilized in the research was content analysis. Because of the low response rate of the survey questionnaires, statistical testing was not feasible. Multijurisdictional drug task forces in the sample were compared to the practical ideal type. Although the data was limited it did provide some useful insights into the nature of these task forces in Texas. In the analysis of the policies and procedures, the task forces in terms of management and asset forfeitures usually supported the practical ideal type. Nevertheless, the content analysis showed that there was weak support for the ideal type in terms of some issues associated with management, oversight and command and control and other elements. The findings in the study were inconclusive because of the small sample size. However, the research project did provide a better understanding of the workings of multijurisdictional drug task forces in Texas. In spite of the limitations of the study, the preliminary findings did provide information to develop recommendations on the subject matter. The preliminary findings of the pilot study found that as a whole the drug task forces in Texas do support the ideal type. There are, however, some elements that either weakly supports, or fails to support the ideal type.


An Applied Research Project Submitted to the Department of Political Science, Southwest Texas State University-, in Partial Fulfillment for the Requirements for the Degree of Masters of Public Administration, Spring 2002.


drug task forces, Texas, drug trafficking, multi-jurisdiction, management practices, crime, Public Administration


Cardenas, G. G. (2002). An assessment of the multijurisdictional drug task forces in Texas: A case study. Masters of Public Administration, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, TX.


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